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The Tattoos and Scene of the South Philly Summer Fest

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Photos by Liz Spikol.

How this neighborhood has changed. What was once a stronghold exclusively for shops that sold statues of the Virgin Mary and uniforms for Neumann-Goretti now has a distinctly different feel, one partly embodied by the styles and scene at this weekend's South Philly Summer Fest, the first celebration by that name in the East Passyunk area. Sponsored by Lucky 13 Pub and Sweet Jane Vintage, the block party featured vendors selling vintage cowboy boots, a ’70s board game, crates of vinyl, racks of vintage clothing, and handmade beaded earrings by local craftspeople—but not Headhouse Square-y crafts; East Passyunk-y crafts. The Little Baby's Ice Cream truck offered flavors that, it's safe to say, native East Passyunkers never saw growing up—flavors like Earl Grey Sriracha and Balsamic Banana. No one crooned Sinatra—bands included the Hivelords and Far-Out Fangtooth.

But on the Passyunk strip itself, only about half the businesses have changed, leaving dynamic juxtapositions: Philadelphia Scooters across from Marra's Pizzeria; Bianca Simone Clothing & Fine Accessories, which sells gowns for the ladies, across the street from Fabric Horse, which sells fanny packs for hipsters. Communion dresses or La Colombe coffee—what's your pleasure? (Or politics: Obama's South Philly campaign HQ opened on the Passyunk strip.) And, perhaps most tellingly, an empty bottle of Sierra Nevada left on the doorstep of St. Jude's—some kind of offering, we're sure, but not one likely to be well-received by old-timers.

Perhaps the most significant harbinger of change was the closure and listing of King of Jeans. It's still for sale. And 10,000 square feet sounds like just enough for a Vespa or craft beer warehouse.
· Listing: King of Jeans, 1843 E Passyunk Ave [homes.com]
· East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association and Town Watch Zoning Meeting: Wed., July 18, 6pm (for early discussion with Mural Arts), 7pm (general meeting). EPX Center, 1729 S. 11th Street